By Syma Chowdhry and Natasha Brown
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Parents are relieved to learn that police have arrested a man they say tried to abduct two children Monday morning as they walked to Bethune Elementary School in North Philadelphia.
Erica Coleman, a parent, says, “Thank God they got him.”
But the family of the man accused tell CBS 3 police have the wrong guy.
The suspect’s family can’t believe the charges he’s now facing. Cheryl Ferguson tells CBS 3’s Natasha Brown she was shocked to see the image of her nephew plastered across the news charged with the attempted abduction of two children.
“It’s not Tyrone, though, it’s definitely not him. I’ll stake my life on it, I know it’s not him doing that,” she said.
Police have charged 36-year-old Tyrone Ferguson for the attempted luring.
Police Captain Darby says, “I don’t have to tell you what kind of message that sends to us. His behavior is bold and it’s definitely threatening.”
A brother and sister were walking to school together Monday morning on West Venango Street.
That’s when police say, Ferguson was hiding behind a parked car and grabbed the eight-year-old boy.
The boy’s 10-year-old sister intervened, but police say the suspect then grabbed her.
Chief Darby explains, “Other children joined these two in struggling with this male, literally throwing stones at him, in effort to chase him away and ultimately they were successful.”
While parents were happy to learn of an arrest, Ferguson’s family is distraught saying he suffers from multiple sclerosis and he grew up and lives in the neighborhood where the incident allegedly took place.
They also say he has small children of his own.
“Everybody knows Tyrone in the neighborhood, all the parents, the children, most of them anyway. If anything he was out there playing with a child. He has children of his own, nieces, nephews, never had any problem out of him,” Cheryl Ferguson said.
Neighbors are shocked over the news.
Tina Williams says,”I don’t really know him but I see him in the mornings so I’d be out here talking to him but he doesn’t seem to be that kind of guy to me.”
A friend of the suspect, John Scarborough, says, “I don’t think he done it.”
He says he has been friends with the suspect for 20 years and doesn’t think the allegations are true.
“I don’t think it went down as people are saying it went down.”
Ferguson now faces several felony charges.
Darby lists the charges as, “Attempted kidnapping, with robbery, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, luring a child, simple assault and harassment.”
As of Wednesday morning, Ferguson has only been charged with the Monday incident.
Police are also looking into whether this case may be linked to the attempted abduction of a 10-year-old girl last week near that very same school (See Related Story).
Ferguson’s bail has been set at $500,000.